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Have to Treat the Water

Research at a military biodefense lab has been paused due to safety concerns, the New York Times reports.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a "cease and desist order" last month for some research at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland. The institute studies, among other things, toxins and select agents like Ebola, anthrax, and ricin whose use could be a threat to the military or to public health.

The CDC had become concerned about its lack of "systems in place to decontaminate wastewater" from some of the labs handling such agents, the Times notes. A Fort Detrick spokesperson tells the Times that the issue stems from the May 2018 flooding of its steam sterilization plant, which led the lab to adopt a chemical decontamination system. But a CDC inspection found that that protocol was not always followed and that the system had leaks, it adds.

The spokesperson further tells the Times it is likely to be months until all research there starts up again, but notes that there has been no threat to public health or lab employees.